Appropriate Testing

New online toolkit provides resources to promote conversations

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A new online toolkit puts resources in the hands of pathologists and medical laboratory scientists to promote conversations between physicians and patients about which diagnostic tests are appropriate.

The American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP) unveiled the toolkit during a symposium, "Choosing Wisely: How California Pathologists Can Influence Appropriate Testing," held in collaboration with the California Society of Pathologists (CSP), in December in San Francisco.

The online toolkit, part of ASCP's Choosing Wisely initiative, seeks to raise public awareness about appropriate test usage and to assist patients in taking an active role in choosing care that is truly necessary.

Approximately 30 percent of U.S. health care is duplicative or unnecessary, according to an Institute of Medicine Report, which estimates that inappropriate or over-utilized medical tests account for nearly $300 billion in medical expenditures in the United States each year.

"Pathologists, as laboratory leaders, must take an active role in reducing unnecessary testing impacting the quality of patient treatment and consumption of finite resources," said Lee H. Hilborne, MD, MPH, FASCP, DLM(ASCP)CM, a former ASCP president and 2011-2012 chair of the ASCP Institute Advisory Committee.

Through the use of articles, PDF guides, posters, podcasts, and handouts, the online toolkit encourages physicians to:

  • Engage in conversations with their patients surrounding appropriate tests;
  • Take initiative by sharing the Choosing Wisely message with one or more colleagues; and
  • Learn how to implement best practices to reduce unnecessary or duplicative testing in the delivery of health care.

"The Choosing Wisely campaign puts pathologists and laboratory medicine at the forefront of the multidisciplinary medical team that is working together to improve the quality of healthcare delivery," Hilborne said. "ASCP is pleased to help begin this dialogue and to help spread the word."

ASCP is participating in the Choosing Wisely campaign, a nationwide initiative of the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) Foundation, to help reduce duplicative tests that are unnecessary and may actually cause harm. Choosing Wisely brings together medical specialty organizations across the country that have each recommended five tests where there is overuse and waste and to disseminate that information to their own members.

The Society collaborated with CSP to host the symposium, which sought to equip California pathologists with best practices to implement ASCP's Choosing Wisely recommendations to question the necessity of five commonly ordered diagnostic tests which may not be appropriate and may even cause harm to the patient. George D. Lundberg, MD, MASCP, former editor of The Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA) and Medscape, was among several prominent healthcare experts who spoke at the symposium.

ASCP has been selected to receive funding by the ABIM Foundation to develop a grassroots effort to encourage physicians and patients to engage in conversations aimed at reducing inappropriate tests and procedures that will improve their care and decrease costs. Support for the $50,000 grant comes from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and extends the efforts of the ABIM Foundation's Choosing Wisely website campaign in local communities across the United States for the next 2 years.

To access the Choosing Wisely toolkit, visit www.ascp.org/Functional-Nav/The-Choosing-Wisely-Campaign/Tool-Kit. To learn more about the Choosing Wisely campaign, visit  www.ascp.org/Functional-Nav/The-Choosing-Wisely-Campaign.

Founded in 1922 in Chicago, ASCP is a medical professional society with more than 100,000 member board-certified anatomic and clinical pathologists, pathology residents and fellows, laboratory professionals, and students. ASCP provides excellence in education, certification, and advocacy on behalf of patients, pathologists, and laboratory professionals. For more information, visit www.ascp.org.

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